BUILDING OUR HOME: THE OVERWHELMING TRIP TO THE DESIGN CENTER

Reblogged from MeganFenno.com:
Ah, the trip to the design center. A test of your marriage, an immense feeling of being overwhelmed and hoping that what you decide on that long day will suit you for the rest of your time in your new home. 
Don’t get me wrong, it was also very exciting, but the choices. There were SO many.
MI_DESIGN_CENTERWell, we also had this going on. The first time we went just to take a look at the options one weekend before our official appointment. We made the mistake of bringing Myles. I get it, to a five year-old, this stuff can be kind of boring. Besides, if it were up to him, we’d have a rainbow-colored house. That could be cool, too.

Anyway, since we went out once to the design center before actually selecting our options, it helped us see what we were up against. And it’s true when they say you’ll be picking EVERYTHING. We chose our brick, floors, overall wall colors, knobs on cabinets, granite, siding, trim, doors … to even deciding the shelving in the master bath shower. It was intense. But with a little preparation beforehand and having John model the home out in his 3-D software, we were able to make the selections appointment a little less stressful.

Another thing that helped us immensely was browsing Pinterest to look at new home selections, model homes and color schemes. Because it’s one thing when you’re deciding paint colors — those can always be changed —  but you can’t just up and change an entire hardwood floor or large slab of granite.

But as said, with some careful planning and preparation, we made all of our selections in about five hours.

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For the kitchen, we chose to go with multi-colored granite. We had light-colored countertops in our old home, which stained easily. We’ve also experienced black granite at our last home downtown and it felt like the dark-colored countertops would show every little piece of dust or handprint. With that being said, we wanted something in the middle.

We chose to go with dark cabinets, only because we had white ones in our old home and they seemed to show every handprint or mark, which is never easy to clean when you have a kid opening cabinets just for the sake of opening cabinets. So, dark it was.

The hardwood selection was tricky, but we opted for something in the middle. Floors that are too light show everything, but so do floors that are too dark. Because again, we’ve had both. Picking a hardwood that would help disguise dust and compliment our other selections helped narrow down our options; leaving us choosing a medium colored flooring.

It sounds like I’m so worried about dirt showing, but seriously, no matter how much I cleaned light floors, dark countertops or vise-versa, it just never worked out. Maybe I was cleaning them the wrong way? Regardless, I am happy to say now that we love what we chose and it’s three months after we’ve moved in now.

I feel like we really focused on getting the colors and selecting the materials for the kitchen took priority, then it became easier to more or less ‘follow the theme’ and choose the rest of the house colors, brick, wall color, and everything else based on our initial kitchen selections.

As you can see from the image below, we stuck with a modern color palette, with various shades of browns, greys, and beige colors. Going with neutrals to start felt like a good idea until we can really start designing out the inside of the home.

Now that we’ve lived in the home for almost three months (where does time go?!), I can say we’re very happy with what we chose!

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**Megan Fenno is a Cincinnati blogger, an accessory designer and owner of FENNOfashion.com, a freelance writer, a Savannah College of Art & Design Alumni with a degree in fashion & accessory design, a wife to my high-school sweetheart,a girl that absolutely loves the city of Cincinnati, and a mother to a 5 year-old stud!  To read her full blog, visit her page today!

Happy Homeowners: The Lawrence Family

This new “Happy Homeowners Interview” features Nichole and Jason Lawrence, who bought their home in Cincinnati.  The Lawrence family shared their experience of the entire homebuilding process with M/I Homes, from choosing their homesite to making interior design choices and were excited to share their experience with us!

View More: http://marialynnphotography.pass.us/lawrence

M/I Homes: Is this your first M/I Home and what convinced you to choose M/I Homes over another builder?

Nichole: Yes, this is our first M/I Home. The quality of an MI Home is what really stood out to us. Some of our family members have built custom homes and we felt that M/I’s quality felt custom. We would choose M/I again and again.

M/I Homes: Are you happy about how your home turned out?

Nichole: We could not be happier with our home!! We are so thrilled with how easy the process was and how beautiful our home turned out. Its better than we imagined.

M/I Homes: What is your floorplan called and what features of your home do you especially love?

Nichole: We built the Sorrel Classic floorplan. We love how open the kitchen is to the family room and the morning room. We also love the loft on the second floor. It’s a great place to watch movies and hang out as a family. And of course my personal favorite is the fact we have TWO walk in closets in the master bedroom. I love all the space and storage in this home!

M/I Homes: Overall, how was your experience with M/I Homes. Did you pick your lot and floor plan to build the home, or was the home already started for you?

Nichole: Our M/I experience was fantastic! Everyone we worked with was top notch! We picked our lot and the floor plan and we built the home. This was our first time building a home and M/I did a great job communicating the process and answering any questions we had.

M/I Homes: Do you have any fun memories from building process?

Nichole: We loved the Design Center experience. Being able to go to M/I’s beautiful Design Center and picking out our options was so much fun. We also enjoyed seeing the house progress every week. My husband and I would meet after work every Friday at the house to see what was done that week. It was so cool watching the house progress and taking photos. We have a great photo gallery of our house being built that we will be able to look back on.

M/I Homes: Was there something about your home that made you immediately know you wanted to move in?

Nichole: We saw our floorplan as a model home in one of M/I’s communities in Lebanon. We fell in love instantly. As soon as we walked into the model I could see our family in that home and I knew at that moment I wanted to build.

M/I Homes: What do you like about your neighborhood / community?

Nichole: We were the first ones to move into the community. Its been so great watching the community grow and getting new neighbors! The location of Greenshire Commons is one of the best features. Its so close to the highway and to our family and friends. Also, the view is stunning. We have seen some beautiful sunsets since we have moved in.

M/I Homes: Anything you would recommend to someone looking for a new home?

Nichole: Think long term. My husband and I know we will be in this home for a long time, so when we were building and choosing our options, we tried to think about what we will need in the future so we don’t outgrow the home too quickly.

M/I Homes: What is your favorite memory in your new home thus far?

Nichole: We had my son’s 2nd Birthday party at our new home a couple weeks after we moved it. It was so great to be able to fit all of our family in one space!

M/I Homes: What is your favorite space in your new home?  Do you have any pictures of that space that you would like to share?

Nichole: One of my favorite spaces is our kitchen. I love our huge island and our double oven. The kitchen has so much space and storage room. We love it!

Lawrence Kitchen

M/I Homes: What was something that surprised you the most with building a new home?

Nichole: How easy the process was. M/I was a great builder to work with. I expected it to be more stressful but everything went smoothly and I felt like M/I did a great job taking care of us through the entire process.

M/I Homes: Any suggestions you would give for someone building a new home with M/I Homes?

Nichole: As I said before, think long term and ENJOY the process. Building our home was so much fun and it was a great experience. There will be hiccups along the way, but M/I does a great job at explaining the process and getting things taken care of that may go wrong. At the end of the day, we have a beautiful home that our family will create a lot of memories in for years to come.

***Nichole and Jay have been together for 14 years, married 8. They met while they were working at Penn Station Subs together. They have a 2 year old son named Aiden and a boxer named Kimi. They were both born and raised in Cincinnati, on the West Side! They lived in Chicago for a couple years after graduating college, then moved back home to be close to family (like true west-siders). They both enjoy running and biking and they try to compete in a couple races a year.

Happy Homeowners: The Fenno Family

This “Happy Homeowners Interview” brings us to Megan Fenno, who recently purchased her new M/I home in Cincinnati with her husband and 5 year-old son. Megan has shared the experience of building her new home with M/I Homes!

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M/I Homes: Is this your first M/I Home and what convinced you to choose M/I over another builder?

Megan: This is our first M/I home. There were a lot of factors that contributed to our decision to move and build with M/I, but criteria that topped our list was location, a sense of community, a good school district, and a home builder that had a variety of options and floor plans to choose from. As my husband and I both work in creative fields, the last thing we wanted to do was build a uber traditional ‘cookie cutter’ home, which is often what is available when building new. Megan wrote more about how she chose her lot and what factors played a role in the decision here.

M/I Homes: Are you happy about how your home turned out?

Megan: The home exceeded our expectations. The little things and attention to detail made us appreciate the experience that much more. For example, since our house is facing west, we wanted to add a covered porch off of the kitchen to help block some of the evening sun. We were very surprised when we started to see it being built and all it included — such as recessed lighting, metal rails, etc.

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M/I Homes: What is your floorplan called and what features of your home do you especially love?

Megan: We originally were going to build the Sorrel, but after my husband modeled that floorplan and the floorplan for the Cooke, we decided the Cooke was a better option for us.

We liked that the plan was so open and had the ability to remove the fifth bedroom, which is what we decided to do.

The plan works for us because we are both able to have our own office space upstairs, a large master bedroom, and a bedroom with a walk-in closet for our 5 year-old son. Plus the open main floor is great for entertaining! Mean wrote more about how she chose her layout and floor plan on her blog here.

M/I Homes: Overall, how was your experience with M/I Homes? Did you pick your lot and floor plan to build the home, or was the home already started for you?

Megan: Because we were one of the first to build in the neighborhood, we had a lot of options when it came to the selection of the lot and style of our home. Our experience was great, honestly.

When I’d tell people that we were building a home, I’d often get comments about how time consuming and hard it must be. While it can be time consuming up front, the process was smooth from start to finish.

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M/I Homes: Do you have any fun memories from the building process?

Megan: On Christmas day, we took a photo to share on social media of the three of us standing in front of the new home captioned, “First Christmas in our new home.” I got a lot of laughs.

In all seriousness though, our son probably enjoyed the process just as much as us, if not more. He loved seeing all of the changes each time we went on weekends to see the progress. I know it will be something he’ll remember the rest of his life, like the first time he was able to walk into HIS room!

M/I Homes: Was there something about your home that made you immediately know you wanted to move in?

Megan: All of the space! This isn’t our first home, but before deciding to build, we tried out the urban living scene and had lived in a small apartment in the heart of downtown Cincinnati. While it was a LOT of fun, we missed having space to spread out. The next thing I thought about was all of the DIY projects I could do with extra space and places to spread out. Needless to say, I’ve been busy!

M/I Homes: What do you like about your neighborhood / community?

Megan: The neighborhood is unique to Cincinnati’s westside and there isn’t anything quite like it anywhere else. I like that there won’t be any through-traffic and that most of the people that are moving in tend to have a lot in common. Most have one or two young children, so I can see a lot of new friends and playdates galore in the near future!

M/I Homes: Anything you would recommend to someone looking for a new home?

Megan:  It’s not something you want to jump into. It’s one of the biggest purchases of your life, and just as you would do research before buying a larger item, such as reading reviews, doing the same when looking for a new home is important.

Here’s what we did: We sat down with a pen and notebook and made a list of what we’d want if we could have any home. From there we prioritized the list and decided on what’s most important. For us it was finding a home we could stay in long term with the ability to build equity. Other things that topped our list were being in a good school district and having a sense of community in the neighborhood.

M/I Homes: What is your favorite memory in your new home thus far?

Megan: The day we moved. It was means to a fresh and new beginning and I will always remember walking in shortly after closing and thinking, “I can’t believe this day is FINALLY here!” After planning and daydreaming for so many months, it’s surreal to finally move in.

M/I Homes:  What is your favorite space in your new home?

Megan: Our favorite space is probably the back deck. The sunsets are spectacular!

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M/I Homes: What was something that surprised you the most with building a new home?

Megan: All of the options to customize our home. I mean, we had the ability to pick everything from bigger aspects, like the brick color, to even the tiniest of details, like the knobs on the bathroom vanities.

M/I Homes: Any suggestions you would give for someone building a new home with M/I Homes?

Megan: Have an idea of what you’re looking for prior to starting the process. I think that helped us a lot when picking the floorplan and during our design center trip. Pinterest is a really helpful tool when looking for design inspiration!

**Megan lives in the Cincinnati area with her husband John and her 5 year-old son. She is a blogger at meganfenno.com and also works as an accessory designer. She and her family have moved from downtown Cincinnati to their new M/I home in the city’s suburbs.

15 Fab Ways to Stage Your Home

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The summer buying season is heating up, and that means sellers will be flocking to list their homes. With so many homes on the market, it’ll be stiff competition for sellers who are looking to get out of their current home and into a new one. How do you get your home to rise to the top?

I know staging made a huge difference for my husband and I when we were buying our home. There were some that were empty and it was tough to see how you could use the various spaces. Then, there were some that were too cluttered and too personal, or unclean and unkept with a fixer-upper to-do list that gave me anxiety just walking around.

Remember to de-clutter and de-personalize your spaces!

Remember to de-clutter and de-personalize your spaces!

So, while you feel at home in your house, think about how those potential buyers will feel when they walk through instead. Staging with these 15 fab tips will help to sell it (and hopefully sell it quickly so you can start living in your dream home sooner rather than later!).

1) Clutter – Simplify, simplify, simplify! Too much furniture can make rooms look smaller. Same goes for the small stuff, too. Pack up any unnecessary items and personal belongings that you won’t need for a month or few months.

2) Great lighting – Increase the wattage of your lamps and fixtures to 100watts for each 50 square feet. Make sure you also have ambient lighting (general / overhead), task (pendant, reading, etc) and accent lighting (wall, tables, etc).

3) Neutral and appealing colors – Go for neutral paint colors that anyone will like. Bold colors have a way of appealing to a smaller market and reducing offers, so go for neutrals, especially in large spaces.

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A few updates and a little cleaning go a long way — especially in bathrooms!

4) De-Personalize – Remove family photos and make it less personal so the future buyer can picture their family there, not yours.

5) Flower arrangements – Search your yard if needed! Pull summer blooms into a vase to welcome those viewing your home. Or run to the nearest store and get a small bouquet of flowers.

6) New Facings – If you can’t afford new cabinet doors but want to make them look updated, add new hardware and just new doors / new drawer fronts. Same with the dishwasher – you may be able to get a new front panel from the manufacturer.

7) Finish those unfinished projects – They will become eyesores to your potential buyers. Make sure you update them prior to listing your home.

They say kitchens sell homes, and updating appliances is an easy way to boost the appeal!

They say kitchens sell homes, and updating appliances is an easy way to boost the appeal!

8) Invest in updated appliances – They don’t need to be best or newest model, but stainless steel is a huge selling point for future homeowners. Make sure to spray stainless steel cleaner prior to showings to make sure there are no fingerprints. New kitchen appliances bring high returns from sellers in all of our markets!

9) Update bathrooms – Grimy bathrooms are a huge red flag! Even if you can’t afford to do a full update, make sure to get rid of surface mold. Give the room a new coat of paint, clean grout, replace the shower door and/or paint your tiles to give inexpensive but effective improvements.

10) Give the fireplace a facelift – If you have a fireplace, update the fireplace screen. Get a heat resistant spray paint to give the screen a facelift.

11) Curb appeal – Online people are first going to see the exterior of your home so make sure that this first impression gives the perfect impression! Paint the exterior, add new flowers, pull weeds, re-stain your deck, power wash your home, and wash your windows – inside and out! A welcome home mat and flowers on the porch are also nice touches to make those feel welcome.

Don't forget to stage the outdoor spaces of your home, too!

Don’t forget to stage the outdoor spaces of your home, too!

12) Floors – Have your floors professionally cleaned for carpets, and have wood floors cleaned or refinished if needed. You could even utilize discount sites like Groupon, Angie’s List, etc to find inexpensive ways to update these items.

13) Clean out! – Clean out your closets, cupboards, pantries, etc. Typically you can hide things in these, but these will all be opened when your home is up for sale. Buyers want to see storage areas and they definitely do now want to open the door and have items fall out or worse, hitting them on the head!

14) Pets – We all love our own pets, but potential homeowners probably don’t want your pet hair all over. Make sure to remove pet odors and stains from floors by getting them steam cleaned. Also, try to send pets (dogs and cats specifically) to daycare on when your house is being shown. Don’t have a daycare? Reach out to a friend or neighbor to see if you can have your dog stay their for a few hours! Make sure to vacuum extremely well to remove hair! Pets, as well as their smells and allergens, can deter potential buyers.

15) Outdoor Staging – Staging doesn’t stop at the door. It’s important to stage your outdoor living spaces, too. This includes your front porch, deck, patios and around the pool. This not only warms up the spaces and makes it feel like home, but it also gives buyers an idea of how useful the spaces could be to their lifestyle.

If you’re looking for a new home in the Cincinnati market, make sure to check out these gorgeous new homes. You won’t have to worry about any of these issues, since they are brand new!

Happy Homeowners: The Szymkowiak Family

This month’s “Happy Homeowner Interview” brings us to Lindsey Szymkowiak, who recently bought her new home in Cincinnati with her husband Jakub.  Lindsey shared with us her experience of choosing and living in her M/I home.

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M/I Homes: Is this your first M/I home and what convinced you to choose M/I over another builder?

Lindsey: Actually this is our second M/I home. We needed more space since our family was growing. We loved our current community and our home so we decided to build again with M/I.

M/I Homes: Are you happy about how your home turned out?

Lindsey: We absolutely love our home, and can’t wait to celebrate our children’s birthday party this year at our home with friends and family.

M/I Homes: What is your floorplan called and what features of your home do you especially love?

Lindsey: We chose to build the Sorrel Classic. We loved the open first floor and also having the loft upstairs for the kids to have as a play area or relax and watch some TV.

M/I Homes: Overall, how was your experience with M/I Homes? Did you pick your lot and floorplan to build the home, or was the home already started for you?

Lindsey: We were able to pick our floorplan and lot. This made it nice because we were able to choose everything we wanted. Overall, it was a great experience.

M/I Homes: Do you have any fun memories from building your home?

Lindsey: We were lucky because we lived in the same neighbor as my in-laws during our build, so we got to watch every single step. I would say our fun memories were watching the daily changes take place and knowing that it was one step closer to being our new home.

M/I Homes: What do you like about your neighborhood / community?

Lindsey: Our neighborhood is amazing!  There are beautiful walkways, parks for the kids to play, amazing neighbors, and it’s convenient to the highway and other places within the area. We also have a neighborhood group that puts together many different activities throughout the year which are great for the families and the kids.

M/I Homes: Anything you would recommend to someone looking for a new home?

Lindsey: You will know if it’s right for you. If you have questions, ask, don’t wait until it’s too late. Most importantly, the sales team is awesome and they want to get you into your dream home; let them work with you on your budget. Talk to residents, ask them their thoughts about the neighborhood and their home.

M/I Homes: What is your favorite memory in your new home thus far?

Lindsey: We wanted our first night to be memorable so we all slept together in the bed. Also having our first of many holidays.

M/I Homes:  Any additional comments?

Lindsey: Our New Home Consultant, Michael Slone, is amazing and great to work with. The design center ladies were excellent too. It’s a good thing they have snacks and cartoons!  It made things so much easier with having to bring the kids!

**Lindsey and Jakub Szymkowiak live in the Cincinnati area. She is a stay at home mom that loves being able to stay with her beautiful children, and her husband Jakub is a Sales Rep with Smith and Nephew. They recently purchased their new home in September of 2015. They have two children, Sophia (3 years old) and Jakub (1 year old), and a loving chocolate lab named Jack (12 years old). They love being a part of of the M/I family and the community. They also love having the neighborhood parks and sidewalks to go out as a family each night for a walk.

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